Krishna Prema`s Food for Thought 2018 # 33 - Money & Spirituality, Do They Go Together?
I must admit, it did pain me a little bit. After all, 800.- Euros is a lot of money to me since it took me almost a year to collect it. Anyhow, I am happy to be part of this! The Temple of Vedic Planetarium should be built by the hands of every devotee, that was Srila Prabhupada`s desire. So here is my contribution. Calling out „Lord Nrsimhadeva ki jaya“ I press the PayPal button. Payment confirmed, donation of one Nrismha tile was successful! 1
To give donations is an important part of our spiritual culture, especially if it’s given to the right person, at the right time for the right purpose. Money is a powerful energy that should be engaged in the Lord’s service, but usually we are very attached to our hard earned money and giving it away for something else than our own sense gratification is not so easily done.
Of course in my case, I don`t really earn money but just sometimes receive a donation from devotees for my personal use or get some Brahmana Dakshina for doing a fire sacrifice. One could question that as a monk, how is it that I have money at all? I remember how I once wanted to pay my goods at a cash counter in a supermarket when the lady, with an Asian background, looked at me completely bewildered and questioned: „How is it possible that you, as a monk, carry money with you?“ I found out later that for some Thai Buddhist monks it is forbidden to even touch money. I found this an interesting topic. People often have the impression that spirituality and money do not go together. If someone is really spiritual he will not have money, and if someone has a lot of money that person can`t be so spiritual, but that`s not necessarily true. It’s all a question of consciousness. Of course, it is also true that having a lot of money can be very intoxicating, but just because money can be misused does not mean that we should reject it all together.
Some devotees once approached Srila Prabhupada with a picture that showed a Yogi rejecting money when it was offered to him in great quantities. Srila Prabhupada in return said you may take a picture of me embracing money, yes, bring all the money to me! Why? Because we require so much money to spread this Krishna Consciousness movement. This is the principle of yukta vairagya, using everything in the Lord's service:
“When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their renunciation is called incomplete." Money that can help in spreading the Krishna consciousness movement is not a part of the material world, and we should not give it up, thinking that it is material. "When one is not attached to anything, but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Krishna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness.“ 2
What would you do if you found a 100.- Dollar bill on the streets and not able to find the owner anymore? Take it for your own enjoyment? Not touch it because you don`t want to get bad karma? No, we should take it and use it for Krishna's service.
Neither enjoyment (bhoga) nor renunciation (tyaga) is our business. We are simply meant to give pleasure to Krishna who is the ultimate enjoyer and proprietor of everything. While materialists want to enjoy everything for themselves and so-called spiritualists try to renounce everything, a devotee of the Lord just uses everything in the Lord's service. That what you do not possess can`t be renounced. Understanding that everything belongs to the Lord, where is the question of renunciation?
„The preachers of the Krishna consciousness movement should be extremely careful not to misuse the immense quantities of money needed to spread this movement. Let us not make this money the cause of our distress; it should be used for Krishna, and that will cause our eternal happiness. Money is Lakshmi, or the goddess of fortune, the companion of Narayana. Lakshmiji must always remain with Narayana, and then there need be no fear of degradation.“ 3
`My` money that I had carefully accumulated over months has now been sent to Lord Nirshimhadeva and therefore, Lakshmi (Money) has been united with Narayana (the Lord). My pockets are again empty, but it feels satisfying and it’s a good practice to depend on the Lord, trusting that He will maintain me anyways.
1 - www.tovp.com
2/3 - Srimad Bhagavatam, Purport to 7.13.32